Tensions High, U.S. and Russia Replay Cold War

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Tat. Or is it tit? The U.S. on Wednesday arrested a junior Russian embassy official, after reportedly catching him listening to a bugging device planted in a State Department conference room often used by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The arrest of Second Secretary Stanislav Borisovich Gusev, who has been ordered to leave the U.S. within 10 days, follows last week's arrest in Moscow of Cheri Leberknight, a second secretary at the U.S. embassy there. And her detention followed the earlier arrest of a U.S. Navy officer on charges of selling secrets to Moscow.

The sense of flashback to the bad old days of the Cold War was underscored by President Boris Yeltsin's warning Thursday that President Clinton, in criticizing Russia's conduct in Chechnya, "must have forgotten for a moment what Russia is — it has a full arsenal of nuclear weapons." And in the ultimate déjà vu, the Russian leader's remarks came during a visit to Beijing in order to drum up support in the face of Western pressure over Chechnya. Post-communist Russia's decline and NATO's bombing campaign over Kosovo earlier this year have cemented a fiercely anti-Western orientation in Russian politics today, notes TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. "Hostility toward the U.S. and its allies is so high right now," he says, "that the more the West protests against actions in Chechnya, the more Russia presses forward its offensive." Moscow may now have McDonald's and Pizza Hut and a choice of colas, but some things don't change.